July 28, 2014

Venture capital fund focuses on tech firms

Computer technology firms might find it easier to get started in Wisconsin, thanks to a new $30 million venture capital fund announced this week.

The boards that run the State Retirement Fund and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation at the UW-Madison are providing money for the new effort called “4490 Ventures.” The name refers to Wisconsin’s latitude-and-longitude coordinates.

Some experts say a lack of venture capital for new companies is one reason Wisconsin is lagging behind the rest of the country in job creation. Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget includes $25 million for a separate venture capital effort.

Officials of the State Investment Board and the UW Foundation say their project has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with getting a return on their investments. SWIB executive director Michael Williamson says the fund will build upon the partners’ previous success with start-ups in a variety of industries.

The fund will invest primarily in new IT companies in Wisconsin, although other Midwest start-ups will also be considered. Williamson says “previous experience has proven that early stage investments can play a valuable role by diversifying our portfolio.”